First Monday on the Docket
Oct 9, 2019

LEAD STORY

The U.S. Supreme Court’s new term began this week with a number of blockbuster cases that could have lasting impact on businesses and even the 2020 election.  Let’s take a look.  

 

EMPLOYMENT

Three cases will test whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans job discrimination on the basis of sex, applies to gay and transgender workers.  In recent years, courts have been divided on if it does include discrimination against LGBT people as a subset of sex discrimination.  A majority of states don’t have explicit laws that ban job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identification.

 

DREAMERS

More than 140 companies and 18 major business associations have signed onto an amicus brief in support of Dreamers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  The filing focuses on the economic benefits of maintaining the program and the dangers of potentially ending it.  The economic loss of removing DACA beneficiaries, aka Dreamers, would entail a gross domestic product loss of up $460.3 billion, and tax revenues will be reduced by approximately $90 billion, over the next decade.

 

ADA

The Supreme Court actually denied a petition from pizza giant Domino’s this week making this case very significant since it leaves a lower court decision in place requiring websites to be accessible to the disabled.  Attorneys for Domino’s argued the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to online platforms that were not envisioned when the law was passed in 1990, and there are no clear rules to make their platforms properly accessible.  RIMS will be advocating in our nation’s capital next week for the ACCESS Act (H.R. 4099), a bill designed to help businesses comply with the ADA.

 

ELECTORAL COLLEGE

Finally, pending before the court is a case that could involve the 2020 election. It is a test of "faithless elector" laws, which bind Electoral College electors to vote for the state’s winner or face a penalty or even removal if they refuse to vote for the presidential candidate of their designated party.  There have been 167 faithless electors in the history of the United States, and in no case has the outcome of an election turned on the vote of these electors. But there is no guarantee that won't happen in 2020. 

 

Not Every Hero Wears a Cape

THE GOLDEN STATE

California firefighters and first responders now have a stronger chance at earning workers’ compensation when they are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from job-related injuries.  Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced he signed Senate Bill 542 on Tuesday to create a rebuttable presumption that a worker’s mental health struggles are an occupational injury, which could qualify them for paid time off to recover.

 

FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

In a fire, mere seconds can mean the difference between a safe escape and a tragedy. Fire safety education isn’t just for school children. Teenagers, adults, and the elderly are also at risk in fires, making it important for every member of the community to take time every October during Fire Prevention Week to make sure they understand how to stay safe in case of a fire.  Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871.  Our company fundamentally understands the importance of fire prevention and has participated in fire alarm installation events.  Please take a moment to be safe.

 

Making Our Way Around the Country

NET NEUTRALITY

Last week, a federal appeals court upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial 2017 repeal of net neutrality but overturned the FCC’s ability to prevent states from implementing their own rules.  Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should treat all web traffic equally (meaning they can’t block or slow access to the internet or charge for faster access).  In 2018, California enacted Senate Bill 822 to replace the net neutrality rules the FCC rescinded.  At least five other states have enacted state net neutrality laws.  California and Vermont have agreed to hold off on enforcing their rules until the FCC litigation has been settled.  Seems like the perfect time for Congress to step in before a patchwork of different state laws governs. 

 

FMCSA

Registration is open for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a national online database intended to provide – in real time – the names of commercial motor vehicle drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests. Authorized users, including carriers, drivers, third-party administrators, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals, must register to access the clearinghouse – slated for full implementation Jan. 6.  Registration is secure, the agency claims. According to FMCSA, motor carriers will be able to search the clearinghouse for information regarding current and prospective employees who may have unresolved violations that prohibit them from driving. Employers and medical review officers will be required to report information about drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol, or who refuse to comply with drug and alcohol testing. Substance abuse professionals are required to report information about drivers who participate in the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.  Beginning Jan. 6, 2020, employers of commercial driver’s license holders must query the clearing to verify current or prospective drivers

 

MENTAL HEALTH

World Mental Health Day is tomorrow, Oct. 10, and an opportunity to raise awareness of worldwide mental health issues.  This year’s theme is suicide prevention.  Employers can play a critical role in preventing suicide in the workforce and protecting employees from stress, disengagement, and burnout.  If you or someone you know might be contemplating suicide, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800-273-8255. 

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